Relationship Power and The Enterprise (part 1)Oct 01, 2022
More Power, Scotty! Stardate 5476:
This is Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the USS Enterprise, speaking. The crew of the Enterprise is in high spirits tonight as we celebrate the New Year. However, Mr. Checkov has just alerted me about a troubling signal from Europa in our home galaxy. Our mission to explore new worlds has been temporarily suspended. We must embark now to Europa. Warp Speed, Mr. Sulu!
As a fan, like so many others, of the original television series Star Trek, I marvel at screenwriter Gene Roddenberry’s genius in recreating the classical character of Ulysses, mythic King of ancient Ithaca, in the futuristic context of an age of ultra-technology.
Like Ulysses, who traveled the known world by sea with a skilled but very human crew, Captain Kirk led a diverse, high-powered group of specialists who were more skilled than himself in a variety of disciplines yet similarly prone to human weakness. Like Ulysses, who encountered every manner of contemptible beast the Greek gods could throw at him, in all sorts of bizarre settings, Kirk also happened upon astonishing alien creatures, this time in bewildering extraterrestrial environments.
And like Ulysses, with his boundless talent for creative solution- making, Kirk wrapped himself in a kind of emotional intelligence, continually demonstrating an instinct for sizing up whatever problem lay before him and drawing upon logic, feelings, communication skills, and out-of-the-box thinking to see him through.
Although Ulysses and Jim Kirk both deserve the lion’s share of credit for their imaginative problem solving, it was skill at orchestrating the talents of their players that served them best, not merely their authority to command them. Ulysses, for example, could not have put out a Cyclops’ eye without his crew braving enormous fear by climbing atop the Big C’s shoulders and helping to hoist a heavy smoldering log in the right direction.
Kirk as well counted on Spock, Bones, Uhuru, Scotty, and all the rest to aim phasers, beam down to a dangerous surface, switch bodies with an alien life form (i.e., do a “mind meld”) or whatever might be needed, if Kirk so requested it. No mutinies here; the crew of the Enterprise knew that Kirk was first in line to face certain death, square off with an alien hulk mano-a-mano to the finish, or offer himself as sole hostage in exchange for his entire crew. Clearly, the voyages of Ulysses’ sailing ship and that of the Starship Enterprise were case studies in trust-based leadership resulting in win-win loyalty and in building the kind of interrelationships that allow a true team to achieve its objectives.
To achieve his own ends Jim Kirk also had to overcome extraordinary odds when the technology of the Enterprise was disabled, a mishap that occurred more often than one had any reason to expect. At such moments, Captain Kirk displayed personal leadership skills based more on his charismatic personality than on his appointed position, and in like fashion his crew demonstrated personal leadership whenever their leader’s judgment was altered or impaired.
These factors suggest that the popularity of this TV classic may have derived more from the primacy placed on the principles of human interaction than on either its display of technology or any special effects. For that matter, in many episodes, we actually witness Kirk engaged in a duel of wits with a computer of some kind that is invariably portrayed as incapable of making intuitive, i.e., human judgments.
Like Captain Kirk and the legendary Ulysses, most of us in business today are frequently called upon to “explore new worlds,” either by ourselves or in small teams. Communicating more and more through an intricate web of relationships we often find ourselves feeling marooned on what seems like a distant planet, or battered by a huge change taking place (alien force) at warp speed. Our responses, ultimate impact, and feelings of job satisfaction all depend on how we develop and utilize a powerbase of relationships largely of our own making. Fortunately for us, Kirk and Ulysses exemplified skills and traits that can indeed be both learned and modeled. Clearly, these skills—the mastery of relationships—are the basis of our potential powers and results.
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